Service Excellence, Changing Lives through Football, and a very proud moment.

A number of my blogs this year have been about football, and in this blog I am highlighting a blog written by one of our BU students, Dan Blewett, featuring Street Soccer, read on to find out more. It is a great blog and well done Dan, we are proud of you and your achievements during your placement year.

First a bit of background.

As Head of Service Excellence at Bournemouth University, one of the highlights for me this academic year was an invite to join the Faculty of Management’s Employability Awards Celebrations.   I had the brilliant role of handing out the trophies and am pleased to say that one of the awards recognised Service Excellence. The Employability Awards evening was a spectacular event, well done to the team for making it happen.

The Employability Awards are part of the Faculty’s STEEP programme and you can find out more by coming along to the Service Excellence Conference on the 12th April 18.  Where the Faculty of Management and Business School will be showcasing a number of activities that deliver excellence, and you can also find out more by heading to this link STEEP Bournemouth University, and be sure to watch the video!

I was so impressed by the impact all our students made during their placement year, and I wanted to highlight one of the award prize winners, BU student Dan Blewett who completed his placement year with Gillingham Football Club Community Trust.

Learning more about Dan’s placement experience and how much he achieved, together with the stories from all the students taking part in the STEEP Programme really makes me proud of our students and staff who support them to achieve so much.

The Trust and participants in the project have given permission to publish Dan’s blog.    How the Street Soccer project came about

Written by Dan Blewett

During my placement year I completed 52 weeks with Gillingham Football Club Community Trust (GFCCT) where I worked in the Sport Development Team, taking on a number of roles. Within my first weeks at the Trust, a project was placed on my desk called Street Soccer, a programme I was completely unaware of but which became one of the highlights of my year. This programme targets young people who were homeless and unemployed, with 1 in 7 people aged between 18-24 currently unemployed within Kent.

The Street Soccer Foundation is dedicated to helping support and develop vulnerable young people (aged 18-24) across England. Street Soccer programme for Kent is delivered in partnership with Gillingham FC and its Community Trust and is a football themed personal development course focused on education and employability, health and well-being, and the training of a positive mindset: all to enable young people to achieve positive social change. Dan Blewett was our appointed Coach lead on the Street Soccer programme for the 2016/17 season and took charge of the football coaching for the Training and Engagement element of the course.” Keith Mabbutt CEO/Co-Founder Street Soccer Foundation

What was involved with running Street Soccer

The programme ran for 12 weeks every Wednesday, 10:00am – 3:00pm, with two cohorts running during my time at GFCCT. The day is split up into two parts; in the morning I would lead a 90-minute coaching session, which would work on communication, leadership and team work skills. The participants would then take this into the afternoon employability skills classroom session led by Keith and Neville Gaunt (Director) and myself. The challenge of the Street Soccer program and the coaching element was, with both groups, there was a real mix of ability, ranging from participants who had played at a high level to those who hadn’t kicked a ball around. I had to make the sessions challenging enough for the highly able players, but suitable for the players with little footballing background. My approach for this was to set individual targets and challenges for players each week.

“Led by Dan, each session was mapped out and planned accordingly to cater for a mixed group of varying abilities. Such was Dan’s execution, course participants improved physical and mental health and overall well-being; increased their fitness, confidence and enthusiasm for life; and thanks to the consummate professionalism of Dan and his tireless commitment to making each session productive and positive for all participants, the feedback received at the conclusion of the programme was excellent. To such a degree I had the personal pleasure of awarding Dan our ‘Coach of the Year’ Award for 2016/17 for his commitment and service to the course. Dan has an exemplary attitude and commitment to his work and has been a joy to work with.” Neville Gaunt Co-Founder Street Soccer Foundation

The project was unique in the sense that, during most projects, you aim to have a high number of participants at the start and end of the project. However with Street Soccer, the success rate was evaluated on the fewer number of participants left on the course by week 12. From the 14 participants that started the course, 6 achieved full time employment or attended courses which led onto full time employment.

Last year, the Kent partnership between The Street Soccer Foundation and Gillingham FC successfully graduated two groups of young people, achieving 16 graduates in total from 20 starters, over two separately run courses. All sixteen young graduates successfully achieved a ‘progression’. 100% success rate!

For this term, the Foundation completed the first Academy course of the 2017/18 season, achieving 14 graduates from 16 starters.

As a result, all 14 course graduates again achieved a progressive outcome (a continued 100% success record).


One of the participants has now secured a full-time role at Barnet FC, following his recent graduation from the (Kent & Medway) Street Soccer Academy.

The 21-year old had been homeless for six months before he joined the Street Soccer Academy. On successfully graduating the course in May 2017, he was made a Street Soccer Young Ambassador, and was quoted as saying: “The programme has definitely changed my life; I’m looking more positive, and feeling more like I want to go for a job.”

Final Word:

More young people are becoming homeless in England with the situation getting worse. The number of rough sleepers has more than doubled in the past year and the number of homeless young people (aged 25 and under) has tripled since 2014. In Kent specifically, a recent report by Shelter (Dec 2017) found over 3,000 people are homeless in Kent.

The carefully crafted Street Soccer Academy course offers young people a weekly mix of professional football coaching and employability-driven ‘Skills to Succeed’ workshops. Through the training of a positive mindset, we empower young people to believe in themselves, instil greater confidence and provide the knowledge and know-how to make a change.

“The Foundation was extremely fortunate to have Dan Blewett on board as our lead Football Coach during his time at Gillingham FC Community Trust and all of us at Street Soccer are delighted for him for his recent recognition. It’s richly deserved. With Dan’s support and involvement we were very much #ChangingLives through Football”.



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